Today, my wife and I took the country backroads back to the townhouse that we’ve been living in for barely a year. There was no need to stop, but as we drove past a winding road to a new subdivision not 10 minutes from our home, something supernatural lured our gaze to these partially constructed, monolithic buildings.
It was a new subdivision that had been in development for barely a year, and homes were advertised as starting at a “modest” $350,000. There was a model at the front of the subdivision, with a packed parking lot.
I felt my hands turn the wheel as we watched these new constructions blur by, and before I understood what was happening, my wife and I were voyaging down this winding road into another world beyond. The forest preserve that once stood upon this land had been bulldozed over, and in its place was a lush canvas of Kentucky bluegrass. In my mind’s eye, I could see an unwitting suburban dad crouching down to the lawn, clumping it in his coarse, working man’s hands, and dreaming of a better tomorrow while a shroud of darkness enveloped him.
There’s an unearthly power in these new housing developments out in the middle of nowhere. There are no stores within walking distance, no social hubs for engagement or activities that regularly involve encountering people of different cultures or creeds. No libraries. No institutions of learning. And nary a church or a pub.
There’s nothing but forests and farmlands this far out — shade for an ancient evil well-practiced in luring humans from the safety of civilization into the devil’s hands.
My wife and I found ourselves standing in a house just over 3,600 square feet. It had five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room, sun room, dining room, loft, basement, and two mud/utility rooms. An agent for the developer whisked around us, handing out pamphlets for all of the aspects of the home that could be customized, as well as a sliding scale for a price that went well into the $400,000-range.
Suddenly, the home we had been occupying for barely a year felt inadequate. Just the other day, I had been expressing gratitude at our 1,500 square-foot townhouse. As a child, I grew up in a ranch home that barely squeezed out 1,000 square feet. We were the smallest house on the block in a sleepy neighborhood, and barely a day went by where I wasn’t ridiculed for not living in a home with two floors by my wealthier peers.
Compared to my child self, I had made it. I was living the American dream, winding up in a house 50% bigger than my childhood home, and it had the two floors I often begged for as a kid.
But here I was now, enveloped by a haze that was whispering nasty little comments into my ears. I was inadequate. I was a failure. I had settled for something lesser. Our townhouse didn’t have enough room to grow into when we would decide the time was right for a family of our own.
A poison trickled into my soul and clouded my vision. I didn’t need a home — I needed a family compound, like the Corleones. I could see kids running around these halls. I could see Grandma and Grandpa coming over for a visit during the holidays and a massive turkey feast on a second, larger dining table located in a room that would be used maybe twice a year.
There was a random hallway in the kitchen, one that extended several feet and led nowhere. It was just dead, empty space, but it had a name that was trademarked by the developer. There was a sign on a built-in counter along the walls of this little hallway, and it noted how this would be a great place for kids to do homework.
Up the stairs that opened into a loft before leading to three bedrooms, there was another sign advertising the loft as a great place for kids to do homework. This repeated advertising struck me as odd — why was it so specific? Why were the signs around this house so intent on advertising each space as a place for kids to do their homework? Was I missing something? Was there a glitch in the vision?
The whispering around me grew more forceful. “Can you see it?” the voices asked. “This loft? Can you see your future children doing homework here?”
I couldn’t. I couldn’t get past two signs advertising the same thing.
This massive walk-in closet the size of a small bedroom, can you see your future children doing homework here?
This three-car garage, can you see your children doing homework here?
How about this random animal cage in the corner of the basement? Can you see your kids doing homework here?
The spell was broken. My wife and I were lucid enough to run down the stairs and whisk past the sales lady. Her pointed, black hat fell to the floor as she chased after us, asking us what we thought of the model.
We hopped into our car, and we drove once more down that winding road. The further we pulled away, the darker the clouds in the sky before us. My wife folded up the pamphlets we acquired from the sales witch, and I fumbled in my pocket for a lighter. After I handed it to her, she rolled down her window. As I darted around cars parked on the side of the road and other onlookers trapped in this veiled Hell, she lit the pamphlets. As the papers promising negotiable pricing burned, the clouds parted, and the winding road led us back to where we originally took this detour.
As I write this at home, I look around at the walls and fixtures of our townhouse, and I feel the lingering feelings of inadequacies chewing away at my gut. It’ll never be enough; I’ll never be enough. We’ll always need more. It’s in our nature.
A passenger came with us from that model home, and I aim to kill it one way or another.
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